Skywatch Line for Wednesday, August 14th, and Thursday, August 15th, 2019

This is the Dudley Observatory Skywatch Line for Wednesday, August 14th, and Thursday, August 15th, written by Louis Suarato.

Mercury rises in the northeast about 45 minutes before sunrise. Venus travels behind the Sun as it reaches superior conjunction at 2 a.m. Thursday. August’s Full Moon occurs at 8:29 Thursday morning. Mars is also too close to the Sun to be observable. Look to the southeastern and southwestern sky to see Saturn and Jupiter after evening twilight. The Full Moon, which rises at 8:27 Thursday night, impairs the viewing of deep sky objects, even with larger telescopes.

The Moon orbits Earth at the speed of 2,288 miles per hour, traveling a distance of 1,423,000 miles during that time. The Moon moves across the sky about a half degree per hour. In 24 hours, the Moon will move 13 degrees. The Moon completes anorbit around Earth in 27.3 days. The closer a planet is to the Sun, the faster it travels. Mercury, the closest planet, is also the fastest, moving at 107,082 miles per hour. Venus, the second closest planet, is the second fastest at 78,337 miles per hour. Earth travels at 66,615 miles per hour. Mars has an orbital speed of 53,858 miles per hour. Jupiter travels at 29,236 miles per hour. Saturn orbits the Sun at the speed of 21,675 miles per hour. The orbital speed of Uranus is 15,233 miles per hour. Neptune, the outermost plane,t, travels at 12,146 miles per hour.

The fastest known natural object in the solar system was a comet discovered on August 4, 2016 by NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO). SOHO captured a comet being pulled into the Sun at 1.34 million miles per hor. This sungrazer comet, known to come from the Kreutz family of comets, originate from the outer solar system. Their orbits can take up to 800 years to complete. This comet was destroyed by the forces of the Sun.

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